COVID-19 impacts on South African fisheries value chain

Posted By Orbital Design:9th Oct, 2020

Industrial fishing was declared an essential service under COVID-19 regulations and fishers could fish throughout. Fishers have not changed the way they fish but are obliged to adhere to all COVID-19 regulations in respect of screening, social distancing and personal protective equipment (PPE).

All staff involved in fishing operations or processing have been issued with PPE. Industry bodies, such as the South African Deep-Sea Trawling Industry Association (SADSTIA) have produced COVID-19 protocols to be used on all vessels and in all processing facilities.

An initial reduction in fishing activity was seen at the onset of COVID-19 controls in late March when there was uncertainty about regulations and when quarantining was required after each fishing trip. However, this was overcome, and new ways of working were introduced. Crewmembers were required to self-isolate after each trip and before embarking on the next trip. Some vessels were however laid up, as a result of virus case detection during screening of crew.

Locally a 30 per cent lower demand for fish from food services was seen, as many restaurants closed and fresh fish shops were not operating at the same levels. International retail demand for whitefish processed and frozen products were higher than usual, possibly to counteract the reduce supply of fresh fish in some countries, but shipping costs increased and all fish exported by air had to be exported through Johannesburg International Airport. There has been no change in foreign fishing vessel activity in ports since COVID-19.

Dr Johann Augustyn, Secretary of SADSTIA noted that effective systems have been put into place to reduce the risk of transmission of the virus from vessels arriving in port – for example, quarantining is required before trips, and crews back-to-back up to four trips before the crew changes.

Interviews with role players in the processing sector indicated that factories processing fish continue operating in South Africa, yet some at lower production rates. Raw material for processing has become more expensive in certain cases, however the price of fresh fish seems to be static or even lower. Factories have changed their practices by adhering to strict health regulations, screening, use of PPE, social distancing, and sanitizing. Additional procedures and processes have been introduced. This includes more regular sanitizing of factory spaces, which brings additional cost. Costs related to due to packaging and PPE changes have also increased. Foreign exchange exposure and the downward spiral of the ZAR has impacted the costs of all imports.

The food service and wholesale trade in fish within South Africa is non-existent due to the closure of hotels and high-level restaurants.

The supply chain is impacted. It is not dramatically slower but has become more expensive. Import inspections are taking longer than expected due to COVID-19 Regulations. Exports are impacted. The costs of shipping have gone up, Cape Town International Airport is no longer a direct export location and thus product must first go to Johannesburg for export purposes, this has resulted in the export market contracting.

Recent Posts

New report: Moving Tuna – Transhipment in the Western Indian Ocean

The point when catch moves from the fishing vessel and enters the supply...

Read More...

Corruption and illegal fishing: connections and solutions

A virtual panel discussion examining the links between corruption and illegal, unreported and...

Read More...

Regional Technical Team meets to advance the SADC Regional Monitoring, Control and Surveillance Coordination Centre

The Sixth Meeting of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Regional Technical Team...

Read More...

Iranian flagged fishing vessels identified operating illegally in Somali EEZ

Revelations of the continuing presence of unauthorised vessels operating illegally in Somali waters...

Read More...

SIF News Categories

The Issues

One in four fish in Africa is caught illegally, this threatens the sustainability of fish stocks, damages the ecosystem and deprives governments of income and people of livelihoods.

Find Out More...

Our Approach

Creating change by informing policy and practice, our hands on experience and investigative work means we are often the first to spot new trends and find ways to challenge these.

Read More...

Our Initiatives

Illegal fishing is a complex issue that requires multifaceted responses. Stop Illegal Fishing are working with a range of organisations to bring about change.

Find Out More...

Recent Posts

New report: Moving Tuna – Transhipment in the Western Indian Ocean

The point when catch moves from the fishing vessel and enters the supply...

Read More...

Corruption and illegal fishing: connections and solutions

A virtual panel discussion examining the links between corruption and illegal, unreported and...

Read More...

Regional Technical Team meets to advance the SADC Regional Monitoring, Control and Surveillance Coordination Centre

The Sixth Meeting of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Regional Technical Team...

Read More...